Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta puts out a sugarcane-based version that retains a touch of sweetness.
uh, we all know thats not how that works...
J. T. Meleck vodka, from Louisiana, has a dryness that suggests the rice from which it came.
Given the author's last statement, do we trust they can ascribe "dryness" (in fucking vodka) to the rice?! If any hint of anything I'd say rice tends toward fruity floral...
And Founding Spirits vodka, made in Washington, D.C., seems a bit more structured and muscular, crafted as it is from hard red spring wheat from North Dakota that the company calls “the aristocrat of wheat.”
Really? Muscular? Can't even go with the generic grassy floral notes? sigh... I know writers... all of this has just been regurgitated ad copy. I'd be surprised if A) this author tasted any of these spirits or 2) they drink different vodkas often enough to appreciate any differences in their real life.
There is something to flavors in vodka, and a FEW distillers are pushing that. But it isn't new with the TTB standards change, the standard changed because practices did a long time ago and the standards were dumb anyway. Nobody has taken a wiff of Popov or Vladimir and described it as “without distinctive character, aroma, taste..." And most craft distillers struggle just to hit the minimum abv, much less make a tasteless product.
99% of "craft" vodka is 40% industrial spirit, 60% ad copy and cute labels. Economically nothing else makes much sense. Of the distillers actually making their own, a small percentage from what I've seen are outside the traditional bland and solventy profile.
Personally I think what a fair number of craft distillers are putting in barrels for a few months would be better off as a vodka, but only because we don't have a commercially viable category between whiskey and vodka. Personally, when I make clear spirits I divide them into 3 categories. Neutral, (I skip "vodka), Korn (little lower still proof, obvious flavor, clean as a whistle), and white whiskey (not even trying to be cleaner than dirty but still too clean for a long oak nap).
While I usually have something close to vodka on hand, anybody who orders a moscow mule at my house gets a dark n stormy just out of general principle. Seems most everybody I know who like mules is either begging to be freed from a vodka & soda prison, or just likes a catchy name. Conveniently dark rum is the cure for both.